1094 Pages of Fun
January 17, 2010 | Written by admin
Jeff Herman just sent me a copy of his JEFF HERMAN'S GUIDE TO BOOK PUBLISHERS, EDITORS, AND LITERARY AGENTS 2010, which is published by Sourcebooks. Many people who read this blog have heard me sing the praises of Chuck Sambuchino's GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, which is published by Writers Digest Books. It's a book I highly recommend. But Mr. Herman also has a good resource, and I'd be doing him an injustice if I didn't mention it to prospective authors.
His book includes a section on publishing conglomerates, one on independent US presses, another on Canadian publishers, and a big section on literary agents that is comprehensive and very nicely done. Jeff always asks some offbeat questions, so in addition to the usual stuff ("do you charge fees?" and "what books have you represented in the past year?" and "why did you become a literary agent?"), he asks things like "what are your favorite movies?" and "what do you tell entities from other planets about your job?" and "how wold you describe the editor from hell?" (Really. He asked me all of those questions, plus other interesting ones.)
After covering all those organizations and businesses, Mr Herman offers a series of helpful articles on writing and publishing. This year's edition has information on "how literary agents work" and "writing the perfect query letter" and "secrets of ghostwriting and collaborating success." It's got info on self-publishing, time management, proposals, rejection, and lots of material on various publishing contracts (including book contracts, agency agreements, collaboration agreements). AND this year's edition has a whole section on independent editors — not only listing them, but offering a couple articles on book doctors and the scams you can run into when trying to work with a freelance editor. Finally, the book offers the most comprehensive collection of writing websites I've ever seen, plus another 18 pages of other good resource suggestions. The whole thing is huge — 1094 pages. But it only costs $29.99 in the US, which I think is a great value for the sheer volume of information you receive.
Frankly, this year's version is great. A big step up from the past (and I liked the past versions). I highly recommend authors have a copy on their office shelves. Jeff Herman has done a great service to every writer who wants to make a living in this business.
Listen to me: I have barked at people recently for sending me bad stuff. But it's not that the writing is bad — it's that the author didn't spend twenty minutes getting to know my industry before writing to me. You may be interested in cooking, but you don't go into a restaurant and start telling the chef what to do unless you're an expert. You may want to get your song performed, but you don't start out by informing the musicians how to hold their instruments unless you have done some study and really know your stuff. Yet every week I get proposals from writers who have written words onto a page, but not taken the time to find out anything about the publishing business. (I usually write them back and tell them to invest a half hour studying the publishing industry before sending out their crud to agents.) Well, this book can help you understand the industry. I think it's a bargain, and a great investment. If you're interested in a career in writing, pick yourself up a copy.